The northeast corner of Connecticut is known as one of the most beautiful parts of the state. It is off the beaten path, which makes it a wonderful place to visit. Today I’m going to take you on an armchair trip to Trail Wood, the former home and property of Edwin Way Teale, and his wife, Nellie. Teal was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and naturalist. They moved out of New York City and bought a farm with 75 acres of woodlands, fields, and streams. The Connecticut Audubon Society has preserved it for everyone to enjoy.
A long driveway leads up to a lovely little farmhouse set behind a stone wall. In summer, daylilies adorn this pathway. If you arrange with the ranger, you can tour the house and see Teale’s study with books, drawings, and specimens just as he left it. You can also go to the small cabin he used for writing that overlooks a small pond. Teale was a prolific writer. One of my favorites is a series he wrote about trips they took to document the seasons. My favorite is North With the Spring: A Naturalist’s Record of the 17,000 Mile Journey with the North American Spring.
The one book that I read over and over is A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm. He documents the plants and animals that they saw on their property over a year of seasons. He built a large blind of sticks where he sat at a desk and watched the wildlife in the woods and steam unobserved. Not much remains of the blind, but you can easily understand how wonderful a place it was. When I was a child, we had a giant brush pile behind the barn. It was a good ten feet high and probably 15-20 feet wide. Anything that got cut down went onto that pile. I always wanted to crawl inside and sit there for an afternoon, so I could watch the birds and creatures unobserved. I was delighted to see precisely where Teale had created his brush pile and blind.
Many trails traverse the 75 acres of property. Each area has a name. Firefly Meadow leaves the house and rises along a slight crest before plunging into the woods. If you follow this trail, you will soon find yourself amidst a forest carpeted with ferns, many of which reach thigh high. One of the trails ends at an enormous pond. Two beaver huts sit in the middle of the pond. They’ve put a nice bench there so you can sit and contemplate the scene.
Teale’s books are charming yet scientific. He and his wife celebrated every creature and plant they encountered. Whether or not you ever visit, pick up a copy of A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm. You’ll enjoy the armchair read. But be warned, it will make you want to take a road trip!
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
Isaiah 55:12 NIV